Record-Busting Opening for ‘Ghostbusters II’

Times Staff Writer

Soaring temperatures must bring out a taste for slime, or at least ectoplasmic eradication, according to this weekend’s box office figures. “Ghostbusters II” burst ahead of all other films in ticket sales and broke records for the biggest non-holiday weekend opening.

Although the sequel played on 1,073 more screens than its supernatural predecessor, and ticket prices have increased by more than 22% since the slimebusting foursome made their debut in June, 1984. Roughly 2 million more people went to see “Ghostbusters II” than saw the opening weekend of the first “Ghostbusters,” which went on to become the highest-grossing comedy of all time at $220 million. The latest installment garnered about $29.5 million in ticket sales on its first three days out, beating the original “Ghostbusters” which grossed $13 million, according to John Krier, president of Exhibitor Relations Inc. which compiles box office figures.

“Ghostbusters II” also set an all-time record for a one-day opening, netting about $10 million on Friday, according to industry estimates.


The performance of “Ghostbusters II” also provides the first hit under the aegis of Columbia Pictures’ president Dawn Steel and will undoubtedly firm her position as studio chief. One of Steel’s first moves after becoming president in October, 1987, was to reinstate the sequel, which had languished on the shelf during the brief administration of British producer David Puttnam.

Puttnam, who had said he did not believe in high-priced sequels, tangled publicly with Creative Artists Agency over the film and had discussed making the movie with other, lesser-known actors to keep costs down.

The sequel, which, like its predecessor was directed by Ivan Reitman and stars Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson and Sigourney Weaver, premiered Friday and can be seen on 2,410 screens across the country. The first “Ghostbusters” premiered on significantly fewer--1,339-- screens.

Sales for “Ghostbusters II’s” first three days narrowly beat out those for the opening wekend of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” which made about $29.4 million its first Friday through Sunday, breaking all records for a sequel. (“Indiana Jones” opened on the four-day Memorial Day weekend and earned more than $46 million Friday through Monday.)

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Columbia Marketing President Buffy Shutt “I think we expected a big opening. But, it’s always a wonderful surprise when you have the biggest three-day gross ever.”

Ticket sales for No. 2 “Jones” dropped to $11.7 million, down 27% from last weekend. “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier” dropped to $7.1 million, down 60% from its opening two weekends ago, and landed in the No. 4 spot.


On the other hand, “Dead Poets Society”--a drama starring Robin Williams as an eccentric poetry instructor at an East Coast prep school--gained by about 20% and remained in third place. It was in third place last week when it was only playing in 687 theaters and kept its hold on that spot this week after the number of theaters showing it was upped to 1,091.

This weekend the ghost-busting quartet will face more competition when Warners’ much-hyped “Batman” swoops into theatres Friday. Also opening this weekend is “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.”


Weekend Gross/ Screens/ Weeks Movie(Studio) Total(millions) Average in Release 1.”Ghostbusters II” $29.5 2,410 1 (Columbia) $29.5 $12,229 2.”Indiana Jones” $11.7 2,327 4 (Paramount) $122.4 $5,039 3.”Dead Poets Society” $9.1 1,091 3 (Disney/Touchstone) $22.5 $8,343 4.”Star Trek V” $7.1 2,202 2 (Paramount) $31.3 $3,247 5.”See No Evil” $2.5 1,686 6 (Tri-Star) $38.0 $1,512